New to Iron Sights

longtail55

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Jun 6, 2019
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Hi guys, hoping for some tips or advice on shooting longer ranges with iron sights. Or maybe what targets you use? Im shooting a TC Omega with a williams peep sight and a Lyman globe front sight with the Lee shaver Fine Crosshair. Im new to this so just getting started but its tough for me to really get the crosshairs lined up on the bulleyes at 100 yards. Hard to see and focus on the bullseye. Im using 12x12 splatter targets that are black with a red bullseye. Before I start switching up my bullets and grains I wanted to try to take out as much user error as possible. I dont feel confident enough changing anything yet but my goal is to get dialed in at 100 and 200 yards.
 
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ElkFever2

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Shooting open sights is hard, but doable. This is why I use red dot sights for slug gun or ML. I do use fire sights for turkey hunting, and find those to be the easiest of open sights.

Frist, make sure the gun fits you correctly, with cheekweld and length of pull. If your cheek sits too high or too low to the sights, it makes aiming accurately impossible. Also, same thing if length of pull is too long or too short.

Once these things are accounted for, practice shouldering the gun with eyes closed. When you open your eyes, the front and rear sight should be aligned.

After you master this, there is proper aiming at the target. Your eye can only focus on one thing at a time: either the front sight, the rear sight, or the target. There are multiple ways to do this, but personally I focus on the target first, then raise the weapon. I then shift my focus from the target to the front sight. You will see a fuzzy target and a fuzzy rear sight, but will be able to see both well enough to see that all three are aligned. Then slowly squeeze the trigger.
 

Aussie_hunter_JD

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I love hunting with open sights, I'm doing it more and more now with all my hunting rifles. Adds some challenge back into hunting and gives the quarry more of a chance to use their natural instincts. I was lucky that my father made us learn with open sights for a few years before he'd ever let us use scopes. Reckoned it's a useful skill being lost which I now would agree.

The distance you're going to be able to shoot depends on the type of sight you're using too. The post style which has two rear sight posts and one front sight post is great in that you can get them level easily but it also blocks out a lot of the target. With mine off a rest I could maybe shoot a red stag to 200m but that would be absolutely it.

The other common option is a bead, depending on the size this can be useful shooting further. It's usually accompanied by a U notch or a v notch. My 9.3 has a small white bead and a U notch. I haven't shot it past 100m yet but off a rest I could comfortably shoot a sambar at 200 and I believe further if I really wanted. The negative to a bead is that sun glare can give a false center point which impacts accuracy. I haven't experienced this that I know of but there's a lot written about it.

One of the main things is being consistent, like archery if you don't have everything lined up the same way with front and rear sight you're going to shoot inconsistent (think of it like maintaining the same process and anchor point in bows).

You're other option is to try a ghost ring. I haven't yet but I hear good things about them. Takes out a lot of the challenges I've mentioned above as your eye naturally centers the ring then you're just pointing the front sight where it needs to go.

You're other other option is to try a 6 o'clock hold. Which is where you line the sights up but the poi is directly above the front sight so you're never blocking the target. Some people love it but my brain is too set in the way of putting the front sight where I want to hit so I never tried it.

This red was shot off a knee without a rest from 80 yards with a post style sight earlier this year.
 

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longtail55

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Thanks for the tips elk fever, I actually have to have open/iron sights for my upcoming elk hunt in Colorado. Aussie, cool pic thanks for sharing. anybody else have any advice on if any certain type of targets work better or colors are easier to see?
 

ElkFever2

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Thanks for the tips elk fever, I actually have to have open/iron sights for my upcoming elk hunt in Colorado.
I figured that might be the case
anybody else have any advice on if any certain type of targets work better or colors are easier to see?
Don't mean to beat a dead horse too much, but you really don't want a more visible target. Your elk or deer or whatever is dull and brownish, likely made worse by poor lighting conditions. You've got to be able to point at a target with an imaginary bullseye when hunting. This is why focusing on the front sight is so important. You'll notice that many open sights on guns have a brightly colored front sight for this very reason. A brighter target runs the risk of developing poor habits. I'd suggest sticking with the targets you have, and then move on to a picture of a game animal once you are comfortable with your groups. I know it seems like the accuracy problems you are having are due to the type of target being used, but I'd put money on this not being the case.
 

p_ham

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I do better shooting at silhouettes than I do at paper with open sights. Closer in its not a problem but out past say 100yds it definitely helps. Also, I use a "navy hold" when aiming at my zeroed distance. Navy hold is where the bullet hits right at the top edge of the sight.

As far as targets, I'm a fan of making full sized targets out of plywood or cardboard. It really helps with burning the sight picture into your head.

0827170953.jpg
 

pre6422hornet

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P ham that is exactly what I do. I only put in for muzzleloader hunts anymore out west as the draw odds are better and being a lifelong bowhunter, closing distance isn't hard for me.

I love shooting at lifelike cardboard vitals. I don't use a whole animal target like yours, but I have the front leg cut out, belly back to rear leg and then the backline up to the base of the neck. Gives a much more realistic practice session and helps with distance estimation.
 

longtail55

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thanks guys for the great tips. exactly what im looking for. being primarily a bowhunter myself i also shoot the majority of all my time at 3D's. I was thinking that it makes sense to get it dialed in at 25 and 50 with a normal target but then practice longer distances at the larger more realistic target. I also do feel like the old saying aim small miss small also makes sense but I feel that will come with more practice and more money for bullets and powder.....
 

BrentD

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Longtail, I shoot iron sights in competition and on almost every hunting rifle I have and have done so for decades. Shavers' crosswires are an excellent choice for several reasons, and I used them for years until I could no longer see them. Now I use a post and bead for hunting rifles and a front aperture targets. I would stay with the wires if you can reliable see them. Otherwise go with a post or a bead or both and sight in as p_ham described (I've never heard of a "navy hold", but that's the way to go).

I would recommend sighting your rifle in on very high-contrast targets so you know exactly where the bullet lands relative to the sights. Then go with targets such as elkfever2 suggests.

Good sighting targets would be a Wyoming Schuetzen red on white, or an NMLRA deep red on beige. Their dark red colors will let you see bullet holes out to 200 yds and still have high contrast. You can find them here https://www.shopspg.net/Targets_c7.htm . Do not focus on the bullseye when you are shooting focus on the front sight, and then quarter the fuzzy image of the target with your crosswires.

How is your eyesight? I am fortunate to be shooting still without corrective lenses, but those days are fading for me. I just bought some 0.5+ diaopter safety glasses from Amazon that may help a lot with seeing the front sights still. You may want to experiment with something like that.

Last, on my rifles I use either vernier scale sights which allow repeatable sight settings and/or I use the barrel sight as well as the tang sight with the former set for 80-100 yds, and the latter set for 180-200 yds, depending on rifle and conditions. But not all tang sights are compatible with this sort of arrangement, and the Williams will probably not work that way. You may need to pick an intermediate zero and then hold over/under as needed. Memorizing a drop table will be super helpful. The crosswires are great for holding over and under.

Typically, when shooting at a game animal in almost any light, the belly area is darker. Even darker than p_ham's cut out. As a result, it is more common to hit an animal too high. Keep that in mind when you are looking at game at a distance.
 

beginnerhunter

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Hi guys, hoping for some tips or advice on shooting longer ranges with iron sights. Or maybe what targets you use? Im shooting a TC Omega with a williams peep sight and a Lyman globe front sight with the Lee shaver Fine Crosshair. Im new to this so just getting started but its tough for me to really get the crosshairs lined up on the bulleyes at 100 yards. Hard to see and focus on the bullseye. Im using 12x12 splatter targets that are black with a red bullseye. Before I start switching up my bullets and grains I wanted to try to take out as much user error as possible. I dont feel confident enough changing anything yet but my goal is to get dialed in at 100 and 200 yards.
Dang, I was considering going with a similar concept (peep/globe/crosshair) but now I'm second guessing. Is it just targets you're having trouble with? Does it look better when aiming at other objects? Have you tried different apertures in your peep?

Let us know what you figure out.
 

longtail55

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Dang, I was considering going with a similar concept (peep/globe/crosshair) but now I'm second guessing. Is it just targets you're having trouble with? Does it look better when aiming at other objects? Have you tried different apertures in your peep?

Let us know what you figure out.
keep in mind ive only had 2 outings with the new sights so again, very new to me and i have some OCD about getting things right. like anything its going to require a lot of practice. I haven't practiced shooting at anything other than your standard black target with red bullseye. I have not tried a different aperture but am researching that also.
 

beginnerhunter

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keep in mind ive only had 2 outings with the new sights so again, very new to me and i have some OCD about getting things right. like anything its going to require a lot of practice. I haven't practiced shooting at anything other than your standard black target with red bullseye. I have not tried a different aperture but am researching that also.
I feel ya. Anyone who goes through trouble to set that up instead of just using the sight that came on the gun probably wants it to work really well.
 

Western Traveler1

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I do better shooting at silhouettes than I do at paper with open sights. Closer in its not a problem but out past say 100yds it definitely helps. Also, I use a "navy hold" when aiming at my zeroed distance. Navy hold is where the bullet hits right at the top edge of the sight.

As far as targets, I'm a fan of making full sized targets out of plywood or cardboard. It really helps with burning the sight picture into your head.
p_ham I too have an iron sights muzzleloader Colorado elk tag this year. I haven't shot iron sights for years but thats all I knew into my 30's. My homemade silhouette archery target came apart in a windstorm along with the stand after years of use. Time to make a new one. I know the technique and still have my tracings. I remember I used 8' long butt to nose, 5 1/2' at the withers but I can't remember how high I had the rump but think it was 4 1/2' to 5'. Can you share what you are using for dimensions? BTW, Nice looking target.
 
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Guy

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I focus on the sights, not the target.

Ya, I put the sights on the chunk of target I want to hit, but my focus is on the front sight.

Works for me.

Guy
 

ElkFever2

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May also be helpful to have a similar (or same) open sight set-up on a .22 and put some rounds through it to master the techniques. It's cheap. I shoot a couple hundred with an iron sight at the range every year, then take it to hunt squirrels to keep my skills sharp.
 

Aussie_hunter_JD

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I focus on the sights, not the target.

Ya, I put the sights on the chunk of target I want to hit, but my focus is on the front sight.

Works for me.

Guy
I do this, with enough practice lining up the rear sight is instinctual. It's just a fact of biology that our eyes can't focus on multiple points at once so I get it on target and keep the front sight where it needs to go.
 
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Flatlander001

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Shooting open sights is hard, but doable. This is why I use red dot sights for slug gun or ML. I do use fire sights for turkey hunting, and find those to be the easiest of open sights.

Frist, make sure the gun fits you correctly, with cheekweld and length of pull. If your cheek sits too high or too low to the sights, it makes aiming accurately impossible. Also, same thing if length of pull is too long or too short.

Once these things are accounted for, practice shouldering the gun with eyes closed. When you open your eyes, the front and rear sight should be aligned.

After you master this, there is proper aiming at the target. Your eye can only focus on one thing at a time: either the front sight, the rear sight, or the target. There are multiple ways to do this, but personally I focus on the target first, then raise the weapon. I then shift my focus from the target to the front sight. You will see a fuzzy target and a fuzzy rear sight, but will be able to see both well enough to see that all three are aligned. Then slowly squeeze the trigger.
Very well said!!
 

Flatlander001

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Thanks for the tips elk fever, I actually have to have open/iron sights for my upcoming elk hunt in Colorado. Aussie, cool pic thanks for sharing. anybody else have any advice on if any certain type of targets work better or colors are easier to see?
I'm assuming you have a muzzleloader tag..if so what unit?
 

p_ham

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p_ham I too have an iron sights muzzleloader Colorado elk tag this year. I haven't shot iron sights for years but thats all I knew into my 30's. My homemade 3-D archery target came apart in a windstorm along with the stand after years of use. Time to make a new one. I know the technique and still have my tracings. I remember I used 8' long butt to nose, 5 1/2' at the withers but I can't remember how high I had the rump but think it was 4 1/2' to 5'. Can you share what you are using for dimensions? BTW, Nice looking target.
Thanks.

Measurements are:
Ground to top of shoulder: 60"
Ground to top of rump: 56"
Chest to back: 28"
Tip to tail: 96"

If you want any other measurements let me know.
 
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